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Thursday, 8 July 2010

Michael Sheen: descendent of a wild animal trainer

At the premiere of "The Damned United&quo...Image via Wikipedia
I very rarely write anything publically about my parents' business. They work in the media all the time, so it would be  an overwhelming task to report on their activities. It would swamp my already very tight schedule and keep me away from writing about my main areas of interest. To put it simply, my heritage and the other work I do on a day-to-day basis are sources of proud inspiration, but not the main source of my writing material.

However, I am delighted to announce that my father has agreed to be an expert on a television programme on Michael Sheen's lion training great-grandmother (details to be confirmed) on Bostock and Wombwelle's Menagerie.
Sheen, a brilliant theatre actor who steadily rose to fame in TV and a surprising number of feature films, is now best known for his serious performances as ex-British Prime Minister Tony Blair in "The Deal", "The Queen" and "The Special Relationship", Brian Clough in "The Damned United", and - my personal favourite - as David Frost in "Frost/Nixon" (both on stage and film).

My father, a professional wild animal trainer for 40 years, is a dedicated circus, zoo and menagerie historian. Bostock and Wombwelle - a travelling menagerie/circus business that ran for well over a century, beginning in 1805 - is a pet subject of his and he was featured as an expert commentator on them when the documentary "Kings and Beasts" was partly filmed at the private zoo he owns with my mother. This particular documentary was all about the Tower Menagerie, but touched upon Bostock and Wombwelle's Menagerie and as well a being a regular consultant Dad's main work was training and supplying the wild animals (lions mainly) used when the filmmakers reconstructed part of the Tower of London Menagerie at his zoo.

I am particularly excited about this project, which is being filmed at our friend Martin Burton's circus, Zippo's, as it unites several areas of interest for me - film, general history and circus history.

Recommended viewing:

Recommended reading:

Alyce Faye Cleese interviewed my father for her book on developing better relationships with mothers: 

The book my father researched with me: 

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